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F 



I-SUPPLEMENT PROPOSED FOR THE 

QUARTERLY JOURNAL 

OF THE 

GEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 

(This should be added to the discussion, page 216, Vol. lxiii.) 



Criticisms of three papers on the Zambezi Gorge, 
by Mr. G. W. Lamplugh, F. G. S., F. R. S.* 



No apology is needed for this discussion of a subject so 
close y related to the present writer's long-continued and 
w^ 1 , le ^ in ^stigations on a kindred subject in America. 
While Mr Lamplugh's treatment of the local features mav 
not be without interest, characteristics appear which should 
not be passed without criticism. For specialists, in even 
other branches of Geology, these may be of little interest 
with accordingly a disposition to accept the author, as 
would be the case with a text-book maker, who is not an 
investigator of related phenomena ; especially as the author 
made his short visit under the auspices of the British As- 
vahfe 10 "' glVing ^ a qU3Si endorseme nt of apparent 

As great water-falls are of unusual interest to the present 
writer he turned to Mr. Lamplugh's accounts of the fea- 
tures about the Victoria Falls, expecting to find more defi- 
nite information than he had previously obtained— for the 
author stated that his time had been devoted to two 
problem8--(l) "Origin of the Falls and the singularly 
erratic conformation below the Falls, and (2) the course of 
the river tor 70-80 miles below the Falls.f Investi^aHons 
showing the character of the rocks penetrated, the nature 
o the cataract descending over the side of its -or-e i„ 
place of at the end, and the magnitude of the falls" are 
those ot greatest importance in making comparative studies 
where they bear upon the principles of river erosion. 
nfTfc * f ? t ^°° f hi8 P a l^rsare: "On an Investigation 
of the Batoka Gorge," and "On the Geology of the Zam- 



Geology of the Zambezi Basin around the Batoka Gorgef" Q T 

<J. b. VOL 1X111, pp. l62-2l6, I97. S ^' J ' 

Ceol h To^r rg vT d BaSin ° f the Zambezi bel °w the Victoria Falls," 
IB A Re' on XXX1 ' PP * I33_I52 atld 28 7-303, 1908. 



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bezi Basin around the Batoka Gorge. ' ' Where is the Batoka 
Gorge and what is it ? The name is found to be an inven- 
tion of Mr. Lamplugh for the gorge into which the Victoria 
Falls descend, as discovered by Livingstone. It is simply 
THE gorge of the Zambezi, but as there are also rapids 
some distance above, it had been specifically designated 
the ''Grand Canon of the Zambezi " by Molyneux. There 
was nothing more needed to be said. The Geograph- 
ical Congress expresses thus the Golden Rule of nomen- 
clature, which underlies research; — "The name applied by 
the first discoverer should be used. . . . The arbitrary 
altering of . . . names, well known not only in common 
use, but also in science, is to be regarded as extremely un- 
advisable, and every means should be employed to resist 
such alteration," as also inappropriate and fantastic names*. 
Any one who has heard of Victoria Falls would immediately 
associate the term gorge or canon of the Zambezi with 
them, while Lamplugh's designation is inappropriate, con- 
fusing, with a pretentious disregard of what others had 
done and their rights. This casts a shadow over the whole 
of his work. 

From neither Mr. Lamplugh's descriptions, maps nor 
illustrations did it seem possible to understand the "erratic 
conformation of the gorge,'' which investigation was avow- 
edly the authors's first purpose. It was, however, most 
lucidly explained in the telling map, well selected and 
speaking photographs, and the text of the concise and ideal 
paper by Mr. Molyneux, f one of the African Geologists. 
Molyneux shows that the falls are absolutely unique, and 
not comparable in their recession with any other cataract, 
and also that they cannot furnish measurements for the rate 
of recession, such as he recognizes could be done at Ni- 
agara. His classic work antidated Mr. Lamplugh's visit to 
Africa. 

Livingstone and others had supposed that the gorge was 
due to fracture caused by internal earth forces. So far as 
he went his conjecture was correct, for Molyneux had dem- 
onstrated that the "erratic conformation " is due to jointed 
structure of the basalts, covered with a mantle of sand, 
while he further shows that these joints were opened by 
the river. When adding this feature, Molyneux speaks 
with deference of the great explorer. Not so did Mr. 
Lamplugh, in repeating these later observations, as if so 
hungry for fame that he could not resist a fragment that 
might be wedged off Livingstone. Name-invention other- 
wise than mentioned here, and changes of spelling appear 



*Geographical Journal, p. 63, Vol. xxv, 1905. 

i"The Physical History of the Victoria Falls," by A. J. C. Mo- 
lyneux, Geog. Jour., Vol. xxv, pp- 4o~55> 1905. 



in other pages of the author's writings, as if they counted 
for research. 

Mr. Lamplugh visited some five points along the gorge, 
one or two of which had not been reported by white men, 
but everywhere he found the gorge cut out of basalts, over- 
laid with sand, as had been supposed. He also noticed the 
breaking down of the walls of the gorge but there is the 
regrettable absence of measurements and cross sections, so 
that one can only see the development of the gorge in the 
strata through the eyes of the hurried traveller, in a field 
of continental phenomena new to himself. 

Of five subjects considered in his "Summary and Con- 
clusions," four may be passed over as conclusions mostly 
common to all the observers and of local value. The other 
bears upon the Age of the basalts, an important question, 
as out of them the gorge is cut. He discredits the evi- 
dence of their Tertiary age offered by Mennell and Molyn- 
eux. Then he remarks (p. 196) that the ground for 
Passarge thinking the rocks of Mesozoic age, is on "a 
highly speculative basis," and without showing more defi- 
nite data, he himself says that the basalts form "great 
series of lava-flows of undetermined age, but probably 
Mesozoic," and this, repeated alone in his Summary 
(p. 206) without further explanation is likely to be adopted 
by a text-book maker, with the consequent diffusion of 
ignorance or error. 

Other examples of his speculations may be given. The 
mantle of sands overlying the basalts is older than the 
streams, according to Molyneux, who is probably correct. 
But Lamplugh says that the sands attained their present 
position subsequent to the erosion of the [tributary] valleys, 
and that there are no dunes, but only a flat surface, and 
adds (p. 201) "The hypothesis that the}' have been wind- 
blown under conditions different to those which now prevail, 
agrees best with the general characteristics." He does not 
tell how he knows that they are eolian, or how the action of 
the wind differed in former times, nor does he show how 
stream banks are built up after the waters are flowing. 

Again, the waters of the Zambezi are remarkably clear. 
but the author remarks upon the greenish hues in the 
gorge below, and says that it "is probably due to the 
presence of organisms [tenderly] nurtured in the placid 
reaches above the Falls . . . and is more marked in the 
upper part of the canon ... we may suppose that the 
colouring agent is partly eliminated by the swift current 
and aerating rapids of the gorge. "* This is offered as a 
scientific contribution without giving any evidence of such 
organisms in the clear water of the upper river, which 



*Geog. Journal, p. 144, Vol. xxxi. 



coulgl be so bruised in their descent over the cataract, as to 
colour the water, and then to be burned up by the oxygen 
in the inferior rapids below. These features of the paper 
remind one of the man who never referred to himself with- 
out raising his own hat. 

The observations of value in his papers may be consulted 
by those locally interested, but they should be studied 
along with the labours of the African geologists. Mr. 
Lamplugh had special assistance of local value from Mr. 
Sykes, and Mr. Molyneux has later mentioned one or two 
stratigraphic points discussed by the author. Every writer 
makes mistakes; erroneous hypotheses built up on incom- 
plete evidence often lead to final correct solutions. These 
should be generously treated. Yet such unsupported specu- 
lationsand other features as heres*hown are based upon Mr. 
Lamplugh 's hurried trek of 600 miles, on foot and by beast, 
within a month, with a little longer stay at the Falls, and 
leaves the impression that the severally published papers, 
covering 105 pages, are the work of an "official chair- 
warmer, who has put into ponderous tomes the conclusions 
of others, and imagines that bibliographic discovery and 
revision constitutes original research." The council, of 
which he was a member, unfortunately took him at his 
own valuation. Our friend, Mr. Lamplugh, seems to have 
wandered from the parish, which had been ransacked by a 
hundred observers before, to a broad geological empire, 
with features on a scale not thought of at home, and others 
entirely new, in which he had inefficient training and 
lacked experience. 

But at home the author shows some similar character- 
istics, as in his B. A. address, at York (1906).* In this 
paper he tells with pseudo-modesty, how as a young man 
he ventured " to contribute my [his] mite towards the right 
understanding of the Yorkshire drift," and later attempts 
to quarantine Prof. James Geikie for being a polyglacialist, 
although this gentleman's classification is more or less in 
accord with common opinions in America and the Alps than 
is that of Mr. Lamplugh. 

The characteristics, mentioned above, would be ignored 
did the author not belittle the labours of others, as if wish- 
ing to seem wise at their expense. Accordingly his opin- 
ions and logic applied especially to the physics of Niagara, 
or other falls is of no value whatever, when not accom- 
panied by supporting evidence. 

J. W. Spencer, M. A., Ph. D., F. G. S., 

Investigator of the Evolution of the Falls of Niagara, 

and Origin of the Great Lakes of America. f 

*B. A. Report, 1906, p. 535 et al. 

tLate Special Commissioner of the Geological Survey of Canada 
for the Scientific Investigation of Niagara Falls.